The Mayan Cycle (selections)
Areon Flutes, Jeremy Haladyna, Lisa-Maree Amos, Michele Forrest, Sergio Ortiz, UCSB Young Artists String Quartet
Full track listing at end of review
rec. no details provided
INNOVA 754 [68:00]

Composer Jeremy Haladyna's teachers included William Kraft, Karl Korte, Joseph Schwantner and Jacques Charpentier. Of these Charpentier's music makes the closest (not very close!) link with the music of Haladyna who is now director of UC Santa Barbara's Ensemble for Contemporary Music. Haladyna has been held in thrall by Mayan culture over a twenty-plus year period during which he has studied the long-distant culture and has channelled his studies, reactions and artistic extrapolations and projections into the work he calls The Mayan Cycle. The cycle comprises 26 pieces at last count. Details at This disc presents selections from that cycle. While there are pieces for natural instruments such as Precious First Rat for alto flute and celesta there are others for electroacoustics, manipulations of electronic sounds, for synthesised instruments, for ‘scratch turntables’, for mumbling or incantatory voices.

Escalation, Borgia and Luubchords from Demon Zero are products of radiophonics with hushing, sighing and soughing mingled with celesta and harpsichord sounds. All this is in kaleidoscopic opposition and collaboration. These elements are linked by a never-lost underlying rhythmic pulse. Luubchords is awesome in its atmospheric effects with a sense of Quatermass or The Stone Tapes. One feels teetering on the vertiginous edge of cataclysm. Only armadillos they danced has the UCSB Young artists string quartet with the composer on scratch turntable. The string quartet music finds its roots and routes in Schoenberg and Bartók. Over and through it all the twigs crackling, porcelain scratches and abrasions of the turntable sound out. Intelligent Life on Other Flutes is for electroacoustics. This time the world is established in avian chirrups and a quiet elysian gleam that suggests some remote planet. There is no horror in this unlike in Luubchords. Snake Mountain is from a much larger piece, Tollan. The extract is for oboe and organ. Pieces for natural instruments alternate with those for electrically-sourced sounds. The oboe sings its heart out against the mountainous eerieness of the organ. It's all a bit melodramatic at times - the music for some expressionist fantasy film - maybe Nosferatu or The Golem.

Even Precious First Rat uses breathy voices at one point, and the Areon Flutes Ensemble ( in Godpots (Ollas) include breathy effects from the flutes, and exclamations from the players. Add to this a quiver-full of flitters and spits, half shrieks and whistles.

Strange music - one aches to hear Haladyna’s full orchestral works from this cycle. Until then here are substantial insights into the continuing work of a modern obsessive. Potently atmospheric stuff.

Rob Barnett

Potently atmospheric stuff.

Full track listing:

Borgia (from Demon Zero) [5:37]
Jeremy Haladyna
Precious First Rat [3:57]
Jeremy Haladyna, Lisa-Maree Amos
Escalation (from Demon Zero) [3:57]
Jeremy Haladyna
Godpots (Ollas) [13:28]
Areon Flutes
Luubchords (from Demon Zero) [4:13]
Jeremy Haladyna
Only Armadillos They Danced [5:21]
UCSB Young Artists String Quartet
Intelligent Life on Other Flutes [7:01]
Jeremy Haladyna
Snake Mountain (from Tollan) [5:58]
Michele Forrest, Jeremy Haladyna
Puczikal Peten [18:06]
Sergio Ortiz